The other day I bought the newest, fanciest flagship Android phone for my mother and it was an unmitigated disaster. She has an iPhone now, which she loves, and when I read that 30-40 percent of Android devices are being returned, I honestly wasn’t surprised.
With a user experience as bad as I saw on a brand new Android device, I’m considering an iOS device for my next phone, and I’m a big Android fanboy and proud PC owner. Of course, that 40 percent number is very hard to verify and I’d guess that it’s a bit of an exaggeration – but still, something is rotten in Android town.
So my mom needed a new phone and she was game for an Android – she had been envying my HTC Incredible for about a year and was tired of her aging feature phone. She’s pretty tech savvy –uses Gmail, has a Tumblr, does most of her emailing on an iPad– so after some discussion we decided that Android was the way to go. The integrated Google search, Gmail, gChat, and much richer maps functionality seemed to trump the UI functionality and app selection of the iPhone 4 for her needs. A trip to the Verizon store later, we came home with a Samsung Charge. The giant screen was brilliant. The 4G was blisteringly fast. The camera had more megapixels than was reasonable. The phone was an absolute nightmare to use.
From the second we turned it on, the user experience was astonishingly bad. Want to activate your phone? Take the battery out, write down a series of minuscule numbers that you find on the phone and on the SIM card, then enter them into Verizon’s barely-functional site. Once you’ve got it hooked up, navigate the opaque first time setup, if it doesn’t crash while you’re entering your information (it did – twice). Once you’re done with the setup, enjoy the apps that Verizon and Samsung think you should use: a terrible golf game, a Samsung branded Twitter client, Verizon’s half-baked navigation app.
via Silicon Alley 2.0 – Why my Mom Bought an Android, Returned It, and Got an iPhone. His proposed solution is one that Google should really think about, though even that may not be right. For instance do you really want to split the Android market into these are the “approved” phones and these are “not approved”?